Money Talks, So Should You

Budget Whisperer: Monthly budget challenges

Susan Russell
by Susan Russell, Dimespring 30

If you’ve made a budget, then you surely already know that despite your best efforts at planning, and try as you might to predict the future, sometimes it falls short. This holiday season has outdone itself in making sure I’m well aware of this phenomenon. Between bad timing and bad luck, my budget is hurting a little bit more than usual this month … or at least I think it is I haven’t actually had the nerve to input all my expenses to see what the real damage is.

Now, I have a “gifts” section in my budget for birthdays and the like, but that’s not going to cover the whole slew of presents I need to thoughtfully give this holiday season. I generally don’t use it all each month, so I may have saved a bit throughout the year for it to all even out, but that doesn’t help suppress the price tag shock.  Let’s just cross our fingers it’ll all work out in the end and consider it good.

READ: Budget Whisperer: Resolving to pay myself first

I also have a “travels” category, but my hopes were set on saving for more of an international-scale vacation, not a car ride over the river and through the woods. Plane tickets are pretty steep, and gas prices aren’t easing up any, so regardless of your method of travel, heading out of town is a burden. I made up for it a little bit by heading home a couple weeks before Christmas, when plane tickets were cheaper. Of course, between eating airport cuisine and all the added expenses of visiting family and friends (shopping outings, eating out, etc.), there was nothing budget-friendly about the excursion.

Another fun surprise payment: medical bills. Go in for a routine eye appointment; come out needing multiple follow-up appointments and meds before even beginning the eye exam for a new prescription. I can’t put a price on vision, so naturally there wasn’t a budget line ready for the extensive inputs in that category. Thank you, medical insurance, for helping a bit, but how can anyone really be prepared for those kinds of health costs? I can tell you what I’ll be adding to my monthly savings categories, and you may want to follow suit if it’s not currently in your big plan, either.

READ: Why do some budgets fail, especially during the holidays?

And as if medical treatments weren’t enough, let’s add routine car maintenance. I have been saving up for tires for my car for a few months now, but it’s still a large chunk of change to part with. While it seems fairly certain that snow doesn’t exist here in the South, and it’s not looking like it’s going to get below freezing anytime soon, I’d rather not risk getting caught in wintery conditions with balding tires. I guess that goes to show that we all deserve something new for the holidays. Merry Christmas, car.

Good thing the year is almost over I can start anew and pretend none of these budgeting mistakes ever happened.

What are your biggest challenges budgeting?

Susan Russell, aka the Budget Whisperer, is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.